Are foreign imports stunting English growth?
The shock transfer ban recently imposed on Chelsea for their “inducing” of young French player Gael Kakuta has again raised the argument of English clubs scouting for and developing too many foreign players within their youth systems. Why?
It’s a simple numbers game.
Football is a global sport, so it would make very little sense for a club to ignore the wealth of upcoming talent outside of their own back yard.
Why would successful English clubs with the great history and tradition (or money) that is capable of alluring the world’s finest young talent not do so?
Do you think Barcelona, Real Madrid or Inter Milan would think twice? No, they wouldn’t.
Also, there are huge misconceptions regarding the amount of non-English players currently on the books at the top four Premier League clubs.
Liverpool have most notably been tarnished with a reputation of investing their time primarily with imported youngsters.
Yes, their reserve squad consists of only eight English players from a squad of 27, but their academy boasts a massive 18 English youngsters from the total of 24 they currently have on their books.
Chelsea, despite the recent punishment, have 12 English reserves within their squad of 19 (inclusive of Kakuta), and are developing 13 English youngsters within their youth squad of 22 players.
Another club that have been been subsequently implicated in the ‘tapping-up’ controversy is Manchester United.
The reigning Premier League champions employ 17 players of English nationality in their plentiful reserve squad of 28, and 21 from 34 within their academy.
Arsenal’s first team may be devoid of English players in number, but their Under-18 academy league squad boasts 11 home-grown talents and only eight imported youngsters, including three Irish players.
Their Schoolboys side includes 12 English from the 16-deep squad.
So, why the endless debate?
England have just stormed through to next year’s World Cup finals by winning all of their eight qualifiers to date, and at the level below, the Under-21 side reached the final of the European Championships in the summer.
The England Under-19 side lost out to Ukraine in the final of their respective European Championships and the Under-17’s won the annual 2009 Nordic tournament and finished second in the FA International tournament.
I believe English football and English footballers are progressing just fine.
Possessing the best domestic league in the world and being among the favourites to lift the most coveted and illustrious trophy in Jo’berg cannot be all bad.